Monday, 29 February 2016

Monday 29th February 2016

Leap year day.

And Monday. Yay, a Month with an extra Monday, just what we needed. And tomorrow, I am on me travels again, so making the most of one last day at home. And something to look forward to, I have an interview with BBC Radio this afternoon. But first.....


And we had so many big plans for the day, and yet, time slipped through our fingers like sand on a beach. As usual.

I cooked the sausagemeat burgers I bought a couple of weeks back from the guys in Preston, a cross between a sausage and a burger. Perfect. They take about 5 minutes to cook, perfect in rolls slathered in tomato ketchup with a huge brew.

With Norwich losing again, there was no real desire on my part to watch the previous day's football on TV, so we frittered a couple of hours away before it was time to get out and do stuff. I needed a haircut, which comes round quicker and quicker it seems. And Jools needed to go and see Nan, so I drop her off in River then drive along the Alkham Valley into Folkestone, parking at the harbour. I did not take a camera, so was disappointed to see it was really low tide in the harbour and all the boats resting on their keeps on the mud. So, you will just have to take my word for it.

I walk up the Old High Street to the barber, he has just opened so I go straight into the chair, have about half a pound of hair lopped off, and a long chat too before I can escape. There seems to be a lot of people about, looking in the shops and galleries, seems to be working, the Creative Quarter, which is good to see.

Back in the car, up past the abandoned branch line to the harbour, up the cliffs to Capel then to Dover avoiding the main road into town as the roadworks are making a bad situation much worse. I go to see Nan, she lights up when I enter, Jools said she has been weepy again, and complaining. All she can see is the large clock at the end of her bed, seeing the seconds drag by day after day, week after week. She will be 102 this year, but has been trying to hold her breath so to pass out. We feel so helpless seeing her like this, very little we can do as she is too frail to move now.

We leave her and come home for a coffee.

We were going to have lunch/dinner later in the afternoon, but we both decided we were hungry, so I began to prepare and cook the steak and steak-cut chips. Oh and garlic mushrooms and sweetcorn. It was great, but of course meant that any further productive work was now postponed as we snoozed off a bottle of Proseco, which was nice. As was the steak.

I order a Rumtopf from Amazon, and so begin plans for what fruit to soak in rum and how great it will taste come Christmas. Many thanks for the suggestion La Belle!

After the football had finished, we drove over to the old folk's lace for a couple of hands of cards. And depsite trying to make sure they would have eaten by the time we go there, they had only just begun to eat when we arrived. But they cleared up and we managed one round of Meld in before it was gone nine and getting close to our bedtime, those retired folks stay up until the wee small hours, some of us have to be up at six. We drive back along deserted roads, back to St Maggies where the cats are waiting for supper.

Situation normal.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Sunday 28th February 2016


How pleasant it is to report that the weekend had some fine weather in store for us in East Kent, so instead of sitting around the house, listening to the radio, we were to go out into the big outside world and do some snapping. And that snapping would involve some churches. It has been some weeks since we did any church chasing, so, after consulting my list, maps I came up with a coule to go to look at and snap. And if I was lucky, they might even be open.

However, as regular readers would realise, before we did the fun stuff, there would have to be shopping. Not much stuff we wanted, but milk and eggs at least, so once the heating switching on at seven, I was up and getting ready to go out. I go to Sainsbury's for the few bits and pieces we need, and somehow manage to spend nearly fifty quid. How did that happen? Anyway, I seem to find some party food for us to feat on that evening, all spring rolls and prawn toast, which saves spending hours in front of the cooker. I load up the car and drive back home, unloading and packing the shopping away before making a fine breakfast of fresh coffee and fresh seed covered rolls smothered with butter and apricot jam. Lovely.

The Parish Church of St Martin, Denton with Wootton, Kent At half nine we are ready to go out, I check the cameras for batteries and memory cards. All set, here we go.

I have now visited something like 225 Kent churches, most of which I have been inside, and for the most part, to find a previously unvisited church means traveling further and further afield. But, consulting the map and lists, I see a couple between Dover and Canterbury that might be worth a look, then there is the old Leper Hospital in Canterbury, and finally an estate chapel back nearer to Sandwich. I had done a search on the web for the church's postcodes. We have the sat nav, Jools programs the first one in, and off we go.

The Parish Church of St Martin, Denton with Wootton, Kent It feels great to be churching again, and it also feels wonderful that the weather is so bright on a Saturday, as the white clouds overhead threaten to part and allow full sunshine out. Along the A2 to Whitfield then along to Lydden, turning off past the motocross circuit, down along narrow lanes, through woodland until we enter the village of Wootton, and there on the right was the church.

There is a Wootton in Suffolk, or is it Norfolk? Its near the border anyway, and there it is pronounced without using either of the letter 't's. Asking Jools she said it was pretty much the same in Kent too. St Martin is set in woodland, partially obscured by trees and would almost be invisible from the road in summer. We take the single parking space outside, I grab the cameras then walk to the door, turn the handle and find it open.


The Parish Church of St Martin, Denton with Wootton, Kent Indside it a fine village parish church, the chancel has some fine tiles, in the nave there are some simple wooden pews, illuminated by plain glass windows. I go round getting my shots, ending up with some wide angle shots of the exterior. That done, we set sail for our next destination, Swingfield.

Swingfeld is situated on the Folkestone to Canterbury road, and had strong links with the Knights Templar and Knights Hospitaller. On the main road there is a large fortified barn, which I have to see inside, but in the village is a surprisingly large church, build of reddish stone with a fine tower and an internal spiral staircase visible from the outside.

We park on the side of the lane, outside the former village pub, now a substantial house. Looking at the church, it looked locked, and in the porch I could see a 'church open' sign, folded away which suggested it would be an unlucky call for me. However, the door opened after struggling with the ancient handle, so we walk inside.

For a church with such historical links with chivalric orders, it is a plain church inside, with few memorials, and just a simple printed sign bearing a dedication to The Order of St John. But I snap it from all angles, and again outside too. I put a couple of quid in the collection box and take a couple of the books for sale too, two Dickens volumes of short stories depicting every day life in Britain.

I noticed inside the church that Swingfield was linked to Denton, and Denton was a place I knew well, not least its where the cats are lodged when we go on our holibobs, but I had not seen to church there, so it being just 5 minutes away, we make tracks retracing our tyre tacks to the main road and onto Denton.

St Mary Magdelen is situated on an estate, and to gain access you have to turn down the drive to the country house, put there was just enough space in the entrance to a field to park so Jools and I could set out across the meadow to the copse which also contained the small church. The sun was out, and in the wood I could see a carpet of snowdrops, bobbing in the breeze; a perfect location for a church, and I was transfixed.

It was a two minute walk across the meadow, the path lined with daffodils, not yet open, through an ornamental gate to the church door, and found it again unlocked. It was turning out to be a good day already. Inside it is another plain estate church, decorated with memorials, some grand, to the great and good of the nearby house. It is a fine welcoming church, good glass. I really liked it, although it has been renovated during Victorian times, it retained some character. I liked it, and was the church of the day, if there were such a thing.

Our next destination was the other side of Canterbury, a chapel for a hospital for lepers. I had tried to find it a few weeks back, but there weing Harbledown and Upper Harbeldow, I went to Upper when I should have gone in the other direction. It was a 20 minute drive there, but with the radio on, time went quick, but we did avoid the sat nav's route through Canterbury, a longer way, but saving half an hour.

We park in a steep road, opposite the village pub, up some steps the other side and through a short passageway took us to the hospital, but it was clear this was going to be one that was locked, but a sign said visits could be arranged with the Dean beforehand. We look round, and I take a couple of shots of the exterior of the church before we decide where to go next.

As it happens, there was another church a two minute walk up the hill, the parish church, we saw the graveyard when we turned the car round. So, we walk up the hill to see what we could find. A village church, but in quite a urban setting now meant it would probably be locked; I was right, it was locked, but the extensive graveyard was well kept, with many interesting grave markers. I take shots, then we walk back to the car, with just the one church on the list left.

I had visited Knowlton a few years back, but the approach is down a wide driveway to a large country estate. It felt wrong, so my nerve went and I turned round. But a little investigating showed the chapel to be run they the Church Conservation Trust, and would be open ten to four each day.

After a pleasant drive through the rolling Kentish countryside, we arrive at the crossroads, turn towards the country house. Jools is as spooked as I was last time but I tell her not to worry. As we reach the house, we turn left, then a sharp right, and sure enough I see the corner of the former estate chapel.

There is a place to park opposite, I get the cameras and we walk up to the door, which opens easily. Inside it is lit by two simple chandeliers, powered by electricity, which saved lighting candles! There are grand memorials to the former masters and mistresses of the house, Knowlton Court, including the D'aeth family. So now I had found where death was buried, would we live forever? Maybe not.

I get the shots, then looking at my watch I see it is half twelve, well past lunchtime, so instead of going to a local pub, we decide to come home for cheese and crackers.

Those of you who know me, will know that the rest of the day was spent reviewing photographs, listening to the football on the radio, then some Nordic Noir.

Norwich were playing the league leaders, Leicester, and it was close run thing, with it being 0-0 until the very last minute when a lapse in concentration at the back let The Foxes in for the winning goal. I swore. Loudly.

England played Ireland in the egg chasing, a good game, in which England took their chances, and Ireland were unlucky as they were denied a certain try by the referee, then a last moment tackle by an England back denied them the two tries that would have given them the win.

Finally, it was Trapped; more intrigue, more layers, more suspects, more snow. Great.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Saturday 27th February 2016


And, my friends, we have made it to the cusp of the weekend once more. Just 8 hours or so of work to go. Let's get through this and then we can relax.

I received a call from my Mum thanking me for the Mother's Day card, apparently I was over a week early! who knew? not me for sure. But at least I have got it sent I guess.

There is the usual stuff to do, but what is this from IT; I have to migrate to Windows 10 by the end of next week? really? Oh noes. Well, I suppose see how it is working on as my home PC asks me every day of I want a free upgrade. Last upgrade took only three weeks for the laptop to settle down and be able to work with; what could go wrong? I have set aside Wednesday for the task of installing it.

It is a usual working day, mails to write, documents to read and review. The day progresses.

I have lunch, cheese and crackers and the remaining roll made earlier in the week.

Once my colleagues in Denmark begin to finish for the week, I get the idea maybe I should too. I am so up to date right now. Anyway, I have more garden chores. At three I switch the computer and mobile off, have a coffee then go into the garden to look for some gravel.

Yes, gravel. Seems that aquatic compost isn't necessary, but gravel, or git, will do. Just to find some. There is some in the shed I am assured by Jools. I look and in the end find half a jar of small stones; that will do for the time being. So, I get the remaining plants, arrange them in a ball and cover their roots with gravel, then submerge the pot in the deeper of the pond.

Once that was done, I take up a recumbent position on the sofa, and much to my surprise Molly left her place at the other end of the sofa and came to sit on my lap. This is something she had not done since before I went to sea in 2006, I do worry about these changes in her behaviour, but seeing her leaping and bounding the garden this morning makes me realise she is much the same cat as she always has been. She just likes to keep us on our toes. Taking Molly home from the shelter in 2005 was the first really good thing I did after I left the RAF. She has been a constant presence in my life since, and how she has brightened it. Just to see her sparkling eyes as she waits in anticipation for a stroke from my hand.

That done, I retire back into the house as the keen east wind feels like it is cutting me in half. Brrrr. With a fresh coffee I listen to a couple of music documentaries on the radio, whoch are very interesting, but also sad, as the tale of Amy Winehouse is told. Not reflecting good on the press or her 'friends' either.

Jools is bringing home fish and chips, so no cooking for me, I just have to have a couple of slices of bread buttered and the kettle on the boil when she comes back. Just after six she arrives, laden with fish and chips and gravel. What a lucky boy I am. There really is noting like fish and chips eaten from the newspaper, as the fumes of salt and vinegar mixing with the delicious smells coming off the food. Lovely.

Badger We avoid the Brit Eurovision show, and instead watch the Rugby, Wales v France, which is a really good game, Wales wins easily, but France pushed them close in the 2nd half. As I was watching the 2nd half, a young badge was outside clearing the bird seed from underneath the feeder. I even go to the window to get a shot.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Friday 26th February 2016

Pay day

The day before the weekend, but first, a revisit to yesterday.


Another glorious late winter morning, dawn was already well under way by the time I got up at twenty past six; it seems only a couple of days ago when ther ewould still be an hour of darkness at this time of the day. But the year rushes forward unstoppable. I had slept through the alarm, and Jools brought me a cup of fresh coffee to me. How wonderful she is. Should I get up? Yes should, dawn was creeping through the gaps in the curtains, and I could hear a cat playing on the stairs; welcome to Chez Jelltex.

As I walked down the stairs wrapped in my dressing gown, Jools drove off to work, leaving me alone with the cats. But they having been fed, they all returned to their chosen sleeping places to sleep the food off all morning. Well, apart from Molly who now loves the cushion on the seat where I sit for meals, and usually work from, but I now have to use Jools' seat, whilst Molly washes whilst purring before falling asleep.

This is my day now. I put out the bins, make another brew, have breakfast and find myself ready to begin work at half seven, with the first, and only, meeting of the day at eight.

That done, and my boss happy with progress, I arrange travel for two weeks time, and almost as soon as I got confirmation back, I receive notice that the meeting the trip was based around had been postponed for a week. It is too much of a pain to cancel the trip, so I will do it any try to arrange other stuff instead. Such is life. But then again, worse things happen at sea. Apparently.

There are still the chilli seed rolls left for my lunch; I toast them then coat them with Aredenes pate, which was another minor triumph. I check my mails on a regular basis, not much happening, but I am available. The radio burbles away still, music, comedy shows. The usual mix.

At just before three, the delivery man drops the aquatic plants I ordered, so I switch the computer off, and go to play in the cold pond water. I thought the pack would contain all that was needed, but it seems that the soil was missing, so I do the best I can, put plants in the water as they were, the rest i hoped would last until the next day when I hoped I would either have the aquatic soil or some gravel to fill the pots when the plants were potted out.

The day was fading, but it had been another one of those good days; a splendid day at work, the plants arrived and half in the ponds. And it was Friday the next day. What could be better? Well, steak and ale pie, steamed veggies and roast potatoes; that's what! Always tricky to get dinner ready for when JOols comes home, especially with the crazy traffic we have been having. But just gone six, Jools came home. A few minutes later, dinner was ready.

Being a Thursday there was TOTP from 1981 on TV; PiL, Kim Wilde, Lynnx, Graham Bonnet, Bucks Fizz, and at number 1, Shakin' Stevens. Such was pop life in early 80s Britain.

We watch the latest X Files episodes; the Lizard Man one I saw half of in Denmark three weeks ago. It has been the best one in this run; made with a light touch, humour and not taking itself very seriously.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Thursday 25th February 2016


And here I am, still at home and still loving it.

Once up and out of bed, I look outside to see the sky all blues, reds and oranges, and the ground was as hard as iron, as there had been a harsh hoar frost overnight. I stood at the back window, sipping my forst coffee as the sun rose and the first rays hit the thick frost in the garden, starting to melt it straight away. It was the start of a glorious day, sunny but bitterly cold.

Frost I had set myself the task of writing a new procedure, and that was going to take most of the day. So, after breakfast and another coffee, I sat down and began to type. Work went well, what with Molly sat beside me, gently purring away.

Mid-morning, I take a break and put on my shoes and coat for a slow walk into the village to go to the post office to buy a Mother's Day card and then post it. After writing in it, of course. It was a fine morning to be out, even if my back was have a loud grumble about it, especially the uphill bits, but then if we give into our aches and pains we would seize up I guess. Thankfully they do have a selection for adults, nothing worse than having to send a card addressed to Mummy when you're more than 50! I write a few lines, then present it to the lady behind the counter. Don't you want to read the words? she asked. NO, its all about the word count, trust me.

Splendour in the grass That done, I thought about popping into the village shop for some crisps, but thought better of it as I have survived for months without any, so I walk down the hill in the bright sunshine. At least it gets the blood pumping, and by the time I get back home I am feeling quite warm. So, I pop the kettle on for a brew.

Jools asked if we were going back to Suffolk this weekend to visit, I said NO. Very firmly.

That sorted, it was time to prepare dinner; egg and breadcrumb some chicken breasts, cook them and some sweetcorn, and bobs your uncle. Done.

And it was rather delicious, and with just a cuppa to wash it down, once done, we settle down to watch more on the Renaissance, all Italian and full of guilt and symbolism, and not at all secular. But joyous all the same. And now I have to go back to visit all these wonderful places I missed last time I was there.


So, with night having fallen, and the moon hidden behind clouds in the east as it rose, I settle down to listen to the football on the wireless. Just as it should be.

Clouds across the moon

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Wednesday 24th February 2016


I have now got so used to working from home after very nearly two weeks without traveling, that it will come as a major shock to the system when I head back to the airport next week. However, for now, I enjoy being at home, listening to the radio, stroking the cats and generally enjoying the heck out of life.

Before I start work, I strip the spare bed, but that in the machine and set it going, then empty the bins, put in fresh liners and finally mix up a batch of dough for some rolls for my lunch. Todays, tomorrow's and probably Thursdays lunch too. Ten minutes kneading and its ready to sit on the shelf about the radiator, where it will also catch the warming rays of the morning sun as it rises.


Now for work. And more coffee. And breakfast.

After a couple of hours I beat the dough back down, shape into rolls and leave them for an hour before popping them into the oven. Once cooked I can't wait for the first batch to cool, I take a nice dark brown one, break it open and cover both halves with butter which melts quickly. And with a fresh strong cuppa, made a wonderful mid-morning snack.

All in all, it was a fine quiet day, a couple of short meetings, chance to catch up on some housekeeping chores with the project, and I feel I achieve something. Phew.

And at four, I go up to the spare room to do a session on the cross trainer. Its been a while, and it was a struggle, but I get through it, and have an audience as Scully is watching every move I make to ensure I don't sneak down to the kitchen to feed the other cats and miss her out.

We have the simple meal of pasta salad and cold aubergine, a meal that requires no preparation only to get the food out of the fridge half an hour before eating, so its not too cold.

The evening is spent listening to the football on the radio; Arse v Barca, and not quite the landslide I expected, but a 2-0 win for Barcelona, and another early bath for Arse. So it goes.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Tuesday 23rd February 2016


Rain was still falling outside, but even that, being a Monday and the start of the working week could not dampen my mood. Not only have I finally got an answer to the question about my allergy, I have a way forward, no attack for a week, but at work, I have completed a major task, and so am waiting enjoying the calm before the work and travel begins to ramp up, starting next week.

But, another health scare to report! I have had dizzy spells all weekend, usually when I am laying in bed, the rooms spins; just like when I've been on the pop. But without the fun of having supped some ale or wine. I have an infection of the inner ear, or so I found out later in the day when I went into Deal to see a locum's locum. Just let my body fight the infection, apparently. And enjoy the ride, when the room begins to spin.

So, I feel well enough to drive, and it is much easier to take myself to the quack rather than wake the old folks at Whitfield for a lift. And anything is better than being in a car with Tony to be honest. But in order to have the car, I have to drive Jools to work, leaving at quarter to seven. Once down Jubilee Way, we go along Townwall Street to find long term roadworks have been installed, and the signs say expect delays for 52 weeks. That is delays on top of the delays caused by the port. The mind boggles and we both are working out alternative routes in getting anywhere rather than going through town.

A walk round Deal In Hythe there are more roadworks, so more going round the houses, along the seafront, past the one-grand hotels and into the factory, then retrace my tyre tracks home, only this time going back down the Old Folkestone Road, which was going to be easier than along past the docks. I get home at eight, time to make a brew, have breakfast then switch the computer on and get some work done.

At none I go to the quacks; it isn't raining yet, but the heavy clouds overhead suggested it wouldn't be long. An easy drive into Deal, I find a parking place near to the pier, handy for the 2nd breakfast I was planning once I had seen the doctor.

A walk round Deal I walked to the surgery, sat in the waiting room ready to be called. I explained the symptoms, the quack thought, and said you have an inner ear infection. Which is just what my Google search had said, but always good to check. Did I get dizzy when standing or when walking? no. In which case, nothing he could do, but it it gets worse, come back for meds. Bye.

A walk round Deal So, I am out again in 20 minutes, I think I deserve a breakfast on the pier. So after walking down Middle Street to snap a chimney (don't ask), I walk back along the sea front to the foor of the pier, then along it to the cafe. As I walk, heavy drizzle begins to fall. It is grim, so I pick up the pace, the though of greasy sausages driving me on.

Portabello Court, Deal, Kent Once inside, I take a seat with views back ong the pier to the seafront a couple of hundred yards away. Double sausage, bacon, beans, mushrooms and quadruple hash browns as I skip the tomatoes, and due to my intollerance of eggs, the eggs. It is might large, and tasty. Thanks to two pots of tea, I polish it off, and would not need feeding until well into the evening.

Bac home I check on the mails form work, then go to cook pasta salad for tea: recipe to follow at the end of this post!

The day progresses, rain stops and there is something approaching a fine sunset to mark the end of the day. However, the cloud fails to clear further so we don't see the full moon rising at twenty past six. I drove into town to pick Jools from the bus from Folkestone; then back along Reach Road with the fine views over the Channel to the French ports, lights twinkling in the clear air. How lucky we are to live here and be able to see such things.

Once home we prepare the aubergine, like a factory line, egg and breadcrumbing, then shallow-frying the slices in olive oil until they are golden brown and delicious. We sit down to eat at seven, with beer/cider, and have a fine light meal. One of our favourites, so easy, and make enough to have cold again tomorrow. And maybe Wednesday too.

It seems we have both run out of patience with Channel 5, so tape The X Files, and will watch it later in the week. We head to bed again at half nine, ready for a good night's sleep. Another day down, four more to go before we have the weekend monsoon again.

Pasta salad


About 400g of dried pasta (this is a guess, I have no idea, maybe enough for two meals for two people
half litre of low fat natural yoghurt
small tub of cottage cheese
4oz cheddar cheese, grated
ground black pepper

Note: I use flavoured cottage cheese, usually chive and onion, but any will do. Makes something different each time.


Cook pasta until soft. Rinse with boiling water, return to pan.
Mix in grated cheese, trying to coast pasta with melted cheese.
Mix in yoghurt and cottage cheese.
As soon as mixed in, put in fridge for two hours to chill.
Remove and stir, now ready to eat, but cover with cling film to stop pasta from drying out.
Remove from fridge half an hour before eating.

Breaded aubergine

One aubergine will do for one person 1 or two meals. Yesterday, I did three medium aubergine, enough for two meals and enough for Jools' lunch tomorrow.
plain flour
olive oil


Top and tail each aubergine, then peel the skin off. slice thinly. I like the really thin, but Jools likes them quite thick, 0.5cm.
sprinkle each slice with salt, then coat with plain flour, the egg and milk mix, then with breadcrumbs.
Shallow fry in olive oil on each side until golden brown. I like mine well done, but each to their own.

Wonderful freshly cooked, almost as good cold the next day.

The end of the allergies

Those of you who read these posts on a regular basis will know I have been suffering from allergy attacks for the past 5 years. It took some times to work out that these were allergy attacks, not flu, but after a blood test, my GP told me I was just allergic to house dust and dust mites.

This has resulted in the situation where vacuuming, dusting and general tidying up is left until I am on a trip away, giving time for the dust to settle. In truth this did not really work, and after a time, it became clear there was something else.

Most attacks began in the evening, and looking back I can say that almost always after a shower. So, the culprit initially was aftershave. Even if I only shave once a week and attacks were more frequent sometimes than once a week. Then it moved onto deodorant. So, I stopped using one brand, then stopped using all spay on brands at all.

All this time, the attacks were getting more irregular and the attacks themselves not as severe. So, it appeared I was on the right track.

However, last weekend I remembered that on both Friday and Sunday night that when I had a shower both times I used an extra squeeze of gel, and both times an attack occurred. So, since then, I have used a grape sized drop of gel, and no repeat. And I am left with clear breathing, no sniffs nor sneezes. It is early day, but I realise now that even between attacks, I have been congested, had rasping coughs, so, this is a major improvement, and I think finally I have it beaten.

IN fact the second of last weekend's attacks was a very mild and sensitive attack, and this caused an attack, so, the brand does not matter, just the amount.

Which is frustrating for me also in a way, as I must have given about 20 bottles of after shave, shampoo and various cans of deodorant away over the past three years, but hey. I know the answer now!

Message ends.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Monday 22nd February 2016


One thing that was running through my mind all day was the Young Ones joke "do you dig graves?"

Now, let me be as honest and upfront I can be about this, but we are not two of the most practical people when it comes to practical things, like DIY and the suchlike. So when we had decided to embark on some garden re-designing, there was going to be trouble. And blisters.

What with the very late bedtime on Saturday, very nearly 11!, we slept in until half seven on Sunday, even Mulder had given up on trying to rouse us and had gone back to sleep. But the boiler firing up, pumping lovely hot water round the house did. OK, up and attem.

We feed the cats, make coffee and feed ourselves. We are very domesticated after all. I begin to write the 1500th blog, and Jools does beading upstairs, whilst I play the Manic Street Preachers CD we bought during the week. At 11 she thought we do some digging.

The idea of wildlife pools goes back to the dim and misty start of last year, possibly even further than that. We had talked about it, agreed and disagreed on details and it kinda got put off. The I saw some shots from fields on Flickr of frogspawn, and we really had to get down and do something. Jools had bought two very large rubber buckets, bucket is the wrong word really, but they are large, shallow and if half buried in the ground could be an easy small pool.

We had agreed that we would put one in the garden, but it became clear what we had agreed differed greatly, so Jools came up with a compromise; we would do one each, to how we thought they should be. She went to bury hers in the bed behind the raspberries, and I went to put mine beside the apple trees and gooseberries. Only I have to do some work on mine, because yours truly decided that it should be cut at a shallow angle all round then buried on the huh so to allow frogs and other creepy crawlies in and out. The only problem with this was that it meant me wielding a knife. A very sharp knife.

I marked out the cut with insulation tape, then got the knife out and began to cut. All was going well, too well, and I began to think and work at the same time. Next thing I had nicked my thumb and there was blood everywhere. Jools looked at me and carried on digging. I finished the cutting, and it looked almost OK. Now, well after lunch it was time for me to get digging.

I dug a hole the same size as the bucket, then began to remove soil, only there was a bloody great hedge root right in the way. OK, turn the bucket around, remove some more soil, try the bucket, remove some more soil. And so on for half an hour until, it was in. And looked like a large bucket half buried in the lawn. Great, frogs will love it I thought.

We lined each bucket with stones then filled them up with water; the job done.

Phew. That called for a cuppa.

I tried to listen to the football, heck, even watch it on TV, but as most teams fielded half reserve squads, my attitude was if they could not take it seriously, neither would I. I cooked dinner instead; roast beef and all the trimmings, including Yorkshire puddings and stringless beans, which were very nice indeed. In fact, it were all great, just what we wanted, lots of lovely fresh veg and roast beef.

And that was your weekend. Or ours anyway. We listened to more radio, did stuff on computer, and the evening just trailed away until we gave up and went to bed at half nine. Phew, rock and roll.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Blog # 1500

Hello boys and girls, and welcome to my 1,500th blog post. And you are indeed welcome.

For the first part of this blog, I thought I would post my ten favourite films. A difficult task, and even harder as we have barely gone to the cinema in the past two years. But hey. So, what criteria have I used? well, films that stand up to repeated viewing, are as fresh on the 10th viewing as they were on the first. Maybe some surprises in here, but these are in no order to be honest, as how can you compare a comedy with a science fiction with an action/adventure? Annyway, so in no particular order.

1. Bull Durham.

A baseball film that is not really about baseball, its about relationships. And subject of an article in the very first edition of Empire Magazine, explaining the terms used, which made the first viewing easier to follow. But after a few times, you know it. And you get to know the dialogue, the music used. But most of all its the performances of all three leads: Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, who has neevr been better, and Tim Robbins. The scipt sparkles, as does the direction and cinematography. An utterly believeable storyline, and what would you do to preserve a winning streak?

Hey, I'm going to the Show!

2. Grosse Pointe Blank

I first saw this on a dodgy VHS player in a common room at RAF Mount Pleasant in the Flaklands. I was the room head of entertainment, so I was charged with collecting evey night's entertainment for the room to watch. GPB was given either four or five stars in Empire, and so I was waiting for this to become available. The plot: an assasin goes to his hometown on another kill, where he could also attend his high school reunion. What could go wrong? Everything. Another wonderful script, plot and performances from all; John Cussack, Minnie Driver and Dan Ackroyd. And all to the best soundtrack of any film. Ever.

Another cold cup of coffee from The Clash!

3. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Three epic films, great script, direction and performances all round, not least from the New Zealand backdrops. But what the second had over its predecessor and following siblings was pace, and none of the pomposity of the first, or the multiple poor endings of the last. So, if I had to choose one, it would be this. Nothing quite matches seeing your favourite book of all time made into a film, heck, three films, made large, and not quite perfect, when dealing with nearly 1500 pages of literature, doing a damned fine job.

No one tosses a dwarf!

4. Groundhog Day

Really, a one joke film, played over and over again. Shouldn't work, but does, brilliantly. Phil Connors doomed to repeat the same day, February 2nd, over and over again until he sees the errors of his ways and gets the girl. Each day he gets it wrong, he wakes up at the beginning of the same day with a Sonny and Cher soundtrack. Bill Murray, Andie McDowell and a fine support cast. First time I watched it, I rewound the tape and watched it again. So perfect, so funny.

Don't drive angry!

5. Blade Runner

Very few films can claim to start a genre, but for the Sci-Fi noir, this certainly does. Or in ,y mond. And one that sets out a Dystopian future with the rich living at the top of massive tower blocks in penthouses, getting all the daylight, moving around in hover cars so not having to mix with the poor and rest of society that live close to the ground in semi-darkness. all scenes shot outside show a city drenched in continuous rain, whilst illuminated by neon oriental advertising. And characters on the street speak in a hybrid English/Japanese patois. Deckard is enticed back into the police force to hunt down bio-engineered lifeforms (replicants) to retire (kill) them.

I was lucky enough to see this at the cinema when it came out, and then on VHS once we had a player and I could rent it every week. A DVD re-issue of a director's cut, cleaned the print, removed the voiceover and just let the film breathe.

I've seen things you people wouldn't believe!

6. Midnight Run

Jack Walsh (played by Robert d Niro) is a bountyr hunter, and is given the simple task of bringing in an informant on The Mob in after he skipped bail. Should be an easy job, a midnight run. But then nothing ever is. The film follows Jack, once he had captured his prey, The Duke, back from New York to Los Angeles. Crossing ,aths with the FBI, the Mafia and others as well as a rival bounty hunter. A pin sharp script and comedic best performance from De Niro.

Now here come two words for you: Shut the fuck up!

7. The Rocky Horror Picture Show I first saw Rocky Horror whilst on an exchange trip in Hannover. There were some strange people on the train heading into the city centre, wonder where all those exotic people were going. Turns out they were going to see Rocky Horror too. Two hours later, transsexuals, transvestites, basques, dance routines, horror and I was confused. Did I like it? Not sure, but it fixed in my mind. 6 years later, and a midnight showing at the Sparrows Nest theatre in Lowestoft, and it all made sense, kinda. I must have been to the cinema 30 times over the years, to the West End to see the stage revival in 1990, bought the soundtracks, knew the words by heart.

It's just a jump to the left!

8. Alien

The original. And best. A grimy working spaceship is diverted to investigate a message. They land on the surface of a planet, find a ship and find something. Then take it back to their ship, and the game is then to survive. The first sci-fi folm that failed to portray the future as new and shiny where everything worked. A blue collar sci-fi horror film.

In space no one can hear you scream!

9. Airplane

Joke per minute, the funniest film of all time. A rip-off of Airport, turning a disaster movie into a laugh-a-thon. Nothing more to say really.

Ever seen a grown man naked?

10. Almost Famous

The final position could have been one of may films, I mean to choose a top ten is hard enough, but when the first nine kinda pick themselves, what remaining film should I add: Spinal Tap? When Harry Met Sally? The Usual Suspects? LA Confidential? Silence of the Lambs? They Live? Pulp Fiction? Austin Powers? I changed this last choice sine beginning writing this last entry, it was going to be Pulp, but then checking my list I saw Almost Famous. Cameron Crowe directed this film based loosely on his life as a young journalist on Rolling Stone. Perfectly cast, great music and wonderful scenes. Even better is the directors cut, which is titles Untitled, with over an hour of extra, wonderful material.

Rock stars have kidnapped my son!

Sunday 21st February 2016


Another weekend rolls round and the weather forecast is somewhat less than perfect. But only a little rain is expected, but dark clouds and strong winds, it was not a day for spending much time outside snapping picturesque churches or orchid rosettes. But the two ongoing project could be updated, then listen to some football, a little cooking, listen to some music. And pass the day before some Nordic Noir to round the evening off.

As ever, first off was the trip to the supermarket. And Tesco won out as it is easy with the hand scanner, to whizz round, get stuff and just pay. No queuing at tills, no repacking. And even better for former Olympic cyclists living on the far side of the globe, no Norwich game this week as we lost in the cup weeks and weeks ago.

The St James development, Dover Tesco was very empty, and I got most of the stuff on the list, including some beer and cider, and was back outside loading the car in half an hour, heading home to beat the traffic, unpack and have croissants and more coffee for breakfast before deciding on what to do next.

The St James development, Dover What was next was going into town to buy the aubergines I forgot from Tesco and to take shots of the site where Burlington House used to stand. I go round taking my shots, now even harder as roads have now been blocked up, crossed now by tall green wooden fences, and those roads will soon be replaced by more car parking spaces. The old Lord Nelson pub can only be reached now down a narrow alley from Market Square, doing nothing to help their business. But it might improve when all the work is done I suppose.

The St James development, Dover Having completed all chores, we drive up to Aycliffe to look at the work on the sea wall. The latest news is that it must be replaced, and work continues before the demolition then rebuilding can start. In fact it still looks like it will be just a short time before tracks will be relaid, but I am hearing maybe the end of the year before it reopens. We shall see.

The St James development, Dover Up the narrow path leading up Shakespeare Cliff, leaning on the ancient metal fence to get my shots. Its a long way down there, if it were to give way. But it holds.

We drive back home, back along Townwall Street and up Jubilee Way; traffic for the port is so light its almost not there, so we get back home just in time for the start of the Huey show, time for coffee, some rolls for lunch, then settle down for the football.

The St James development, Dover Only its a dull day, just a handful of games, the midday game is goalless, the main kick0offs only produces a couple of goals, and I lose interest, switching the radio off at quarter to five once the results are known.

Chorizo hash for dinner, the rest of a bottle of red wine, Sarah Millican on the radio, the day passes into evening outside.

The Nordic Noir is very Noir indeed, more death, mystery and layers of confusion. Just as it should be. I think they all did it? Or has that been done before?

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Saturday 20th February 2016


And, my friends, we have made it to the end of another working week. Well done well and all. And for me, there is the usual end of week tying up the odds and ends of the working week; booking in working hours, making sure that the open points list is up to date. And by nine, I was up to date. Phew.

Outside there is the most glorious of mornings; wonderful sunrise, followed by the rays of the rising sun pouring into our kitchen, illuminating everything in a most wonderful golden light. I had some fruit for breakfast, followed quite quickly by a warm buttered roll. This is a fine way to end the working week for sure. Jools had left for work, taking the car. So, I had breakfast, washed up, played and brushed the cats. This was as well as the usual work stuff, or course.

Friday afternoon walk to Walmer The morning progressed, the sun continued to shine, and I had the desire to go for a wander. Just as well that that afternoon there was a beer festival in Walmer. This means that I can have a long three hour walk upto the cliffs then along to Kingsdown and Walmer to The Berry, at which point I could quench my thirst with a few of the 14 beers and ales on offer.

Friday afternoon walk to Walmer Friday arrives, and it is nearly time to relax. But it is the weekend of the Winter Ales Festival at The Berry in Walmer. So I decide to take an early stack; I have worked hard this week after all, and set off north towards Walmer.

Over the fields and down the lane down the dip and up the other side.....

Friday afternoon walk to Walmer Along the road at the top, then taking the path over the downs, where I was rewarded with views of huge banks of rainclouds massing over France, giving the landscape such drama.

Instead of making for the monument, I take the lesser-traveled path towards Kingsdown and the be-Pringled on the golf course.

Friday afternoon walk to Walmer The ground underfoot was testing to say the least, both earth and chalk had the consistency of porridge, porridge that had too little milk (or water) so stuck to my boots, filling the treads, in most complete way, so that I was walking with two mud footballs on the end of my legs, slithering instead of walking.

Friday afternoon walk to Walmer I did not fall over this time, came close a couple of times, but kept going.

But after half an hour or so, I arrived at the cliffs at the edge of Kingsdown.

Friday afternoon walk to Walmer I walk along the cliff edge, except where they had been some recent cliff falls. In fact in once place it would seem that the public land between St Margaret's and Kingsdown will soon be at the bottom of the cliffs, and there will be no way along the cliffs. But we shall see.

Friday afternoon walk to Walmer I come to the end of the cliffs and have the fine view of the beach at Kingsdown with the coast running to Deal behind.

From there to Walmer, the footpath was clogged with people. People with families, people with dogs, walking, dawdling, clogging up the path in my way. But, I push on, getting to where the path opens out onto a large green. I reduce the distance to the pub by crossing over the green, before cutting through some Georgian houses, crossing the main road then walking, nay, staggering u Canada Road to the warming doorway of The Berry.

Beer Festival at The Berry I sample a few beers from down in the basement. I stand at the bar drinking, then sit at a table drinking. Thankfully, Jools rescues me from this beery hell just before five, sipping on the half pint of ginger cider I had bought for her

. Jools goes out for a Chinese later. I think I eat it. With another beer. As you do. But it is a very, very good day indeed. I am full of the glow of a wonderful week spent at home, and having achieved lots at work. I can certainly drink to that. We watch another old TOTP, an ancient edition of The Good Old Days, of which I now have an understanding of how important the music hall was culturally. But by nine, we are both pooped. So, we give up on TV with Soft Cell banging out Tainted Love, and in doing so I really listened to the words really for the first time.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Ask the blogger!

By my calculations, which might not be accurate, on Monday we will reach the 1500th post.

Therefore, I was wondering if any of my readers, sorry, either of my readers. Ho ho, might have questions they might like to ask. Or not.

Maybe there are more stuff you would like to see, less stuff. Less football says Tony from New Zealand. Yes, I suppose so.

Anyway, over to you. You have until midday here on Sunday (GMT) with any questions, requests. Maybe even a plea to stop!

Please ask questions via the comments in the link below!

Friday 19th February 2016


Day four of the week at home. And I am now a little bored.After so much traveling, the commute from one chair at the dining room table to another is not strenuous at all, even if I now have to move double that distance now either Molly or Mulder are sitting on my usual work chair. But that is not really of a problem. Elsewhere on earth, others are dealing with bigger problems.

Outside the rain had been falling since before dawn, and when dawn arrived, it slunk in, quite embarrassed at the drab landscape she revealed. I turned the thermostat up another notch and made another pot of coffee. Cranking the heating up also helped the batch of dough I had rustled up before breakfast so I had some fresh rolls for lunch.

I have the radio on, catching up on what I missed the day before, so two shows and some other stuff burbled away in the background.

At eleven I took the first batch of rolls out of the oven, not even waiting for them to cool down, I split one open, cover each half in butter and have with a fresh cup of tea. Really, that is mighty fine way to spend mid-morning. Fresh bread with nowt taken out and just poppy seeds added. Lovely.

At some point in the late morning, I began to get a stabbing pain in the base of my back. I tried to ignore it, but no dice. I sit on the sofa for a while and the pain does not stop. So I take yet more drugs and take to bed where I am joined by Scully who falls asleep curled against the back of my legs. I snooze the afternoon away, and when I get up the pain has gone. Which is a good thing.

Jools was bringing home fish and chips, so I just had to make sure that the kettle was freshly boiled and there was a couple of slices of buttered bread for chip butties.

Once we ate, we sat and chatted. But with Jools' early start; she left for work at half five, and my back meant that we gave up on the evening at half eight and went to bed. Just late enough to have a chuckle as Man Utd stumbled to another defeat, this time in Europe against FC Midtjylland. And by now I'm part Danish, so I should celebrate it, right?

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Thursday 18th February 2016


It is funny, that how after a long period of business, work just drops off and you sit staring at your inbox wondering where all the mails went. I am sure in months to come I will long for another day like this, but for now, just revel in how quiet it is. Yes, still holiday time in Denmark, all is quiet, just a few mails floating around, nothing major to deal with. So, I make myself a strong cup of coffee, sit down at the table to find that the i player has failed, so no Radcliffe and Maconie show for me that day. I make do with the Sean Keavney show, not as good, and Dr Brian Cox did not seem to show up either.

The final part of the travel expenses chore is to stuff the large envelope with the smaller envelopes which in turn were stuffed with travel receipts and the claim forms. At half nine I take a walk down the hill and up the other side to the post office to send it on its way to Warrington. You have to do this now as post is charged not just by weight, but by size and thickness too. Just under three quid to send the paperwork, but its done,a nd I have just one receipt on my card now. I walk to the village shop, looking for something to put in a sandwich: I buy some ham and cooked crispy bacon. Its the darned Danes have me hooked on crispy streaky bacon I tell you. I was going to buy a cake or something, to have as a fine mid-afternoon snack, but nothing really grabbed me, so I passed on that, paid for the purchases and set off for home.

Its another fine day, but due to cloud over by mid afternoon. The cool breeze is still there, but climbing Station Road gets my blood pumping and it feels warm. Alongside the pavement crocuses are out and other spring bulbs are not far behind. I hope the sunshine keeps them warm.

Once home I make lunch, ham and bacon butties and a huge brew. Lovely. Still on the chair beside my computer is the cushion Jools' Dad sat on when they came over for dinner nearly two weeks back, Molly has taken to sitting on it when I work. Only Mulder now has eyes for it too, so the cats are playing budge, and whoever is first on sleeps while the other looks on with green eyes. So, I work away with the radio burbling and one of the cats beside me, sleeping away, quietly half purring half snoring.

Its good to be a cat.

we have the warmed up paprika pasta thing for dinner, which tastes even better on the 2nd day. Will make that again at some point I think.

That night we watch a documentary on the renaissance, which is presented by Waldemar Januszczak, who did the program on the dark ages. And Gothic art, and is so darned enthusiastic about, well, everything.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Wednesday 17th February 2016


A lot of what happened on Tuesday, I cannot talk about. Not until it is confirmed. However, a lot of what happened was good, although I cannot say in what way it was good, but there was an air of goodness about it, and caused me to feel all warm inside. Or was that the celebration whisky I had in the evening? Talking of whisky, I just have the dregs of the £200 bottle left, all very well sipping on that wee dram, but I had better get back to some every day sipping whisky or a new bottle could be expensive.

Ruby Tuesday walk On top of the good stuff that happened, I also cleared six weeks of travel expenses, scanned the receipts and sent them to my boss to spot through. That'll keep him busy. I bought lots of little envelopes to keep the receipts from each trip in, but realised that all the little envelopes needed to go in a larger envelope to be posted to head office where I am told they will be filed, but I am sure they are filked in either a big skip outside or put through the shredder first before being put into the skip. But I could be wrong. But what else could they be doing with hundreds and hundreds of credit card receipts and hotel bills? I know, building a nest. That must be it.

Ruby Tuesday walk Doing travel expenses takes two days; one day, or part of a day anyway, assigning receipts to a claim, then getting the report. Sending the report and receipts to Jools to print out. And then the second day scanning the report and receipts then sending them to my boss. For him to compare my scans, report and the digital report taken from my credit card bill. Must be something a lot of people do I suppose. It keeps the wheels of the company going I suppose, and gives us all something to do when there is no actual work to do. Ha.

Ruby Tuesday walk Anyway, good work completed, expense reports done, scanned and sent, and a meeting held (arranged by me) clearing a log jam, oh, what a clever and busy manager I have been. Better take the afternoon off then!

Well, the weather has been shit recently. That's a technical meteorological term I heard Michael Fish use once. I did, its true. Anyway, yesterday was even better than Monday, clear blue skies, but chilly with a north wind. Why not walk to the cliffs and back, calling in at the post office for a huge envelope to send the receipts and reports up to Warrington. Yes, that would be the reason I was going out, but going the cross-country way, via the dip, the downs, the cliffs and coming in the wrong end of the village. Perfect.

Ruby Tuesday walk Across the fields, now alive with vibrant spring growth, passed the empty pig's copse, then down the track leading down the dip.

Down that track I had an audience as, apparently, the horses remembered me from the previous day carrot disposing walk. Not today, chaps. Sorry.

Ruby Tuesday walk On down the dip, dodging the mud at the bottom and then the long slog up the other side, pausing a regular intervals to take photos and/or rests!

Along the national cycle path, where I tempted to say hello to a couple of lonely horses, the brown one was a bully not letting the grey have any fresh grass I offered to feed them. PLenty to go round, so I left them to their field.

Ruby Tuesday walk Taking the path over the top of the down, the National Trust have taken the shattered gate fragments away and replaced it with a flimsy looking fence, no real challenge for a off road motorbike I guess. I expect to see it destroyed next time I walk that way.

And onto the top of the down, with fresh green fields in all direction, and the light played on them. And in the distance I could see ships out in the Channel. Nearly at the cliffs.

It was low tide down on what we call the beach at the foot of the cliffs, but there is no sand, just more chalk really. Anyway, impressive stuff with the beach and cliffs stretching off towards Kingsdown. I sit on the old bench, resting my sore back; it had been complaining since we left home, but I told it it was mostly downhill to home. Apart from the uphill bits.

Ruby Tuesday walk I walk back through the village, past the doctor's, past the school to the post office where a large padded envelope cost me 89p. I mean I could claim this all back on another expense report, but I can't be arsed with it all to be honest. Anyway, over the road to the local shop to buy some carrots, then back down Station Road to home to see if all was still well with work before doing some cooking.

Jools was going out for a meal with an old friend, so I was home alone and cooking for myself. I cooked paprika mince with carrots and vegetables (peas and sweetcorn) then boiled some pasta when it was ready. And it was bloody marvelous. So good that Jools said we had to have it the next day seeing as she had none to eat that day!

Ruby Tuesday walk I spend the evening watching a couple of DVDs of Norwich's promotion season in 2005. Wonderful to relive all the moments as I went to most of the games, although I did not see myself in the stands, I did seem to remember each game by the pub we visited before hand, or after. Or both. The season review ended at half ten. Jools was back home and the cats we sitting on the stairs waiting for us to go bed, so they could take their assigned places on the bed or around the room. Just like it should be.

15 years

On a cold and wet weekend some 15 years ago, I signed up with AOL and went online. Here is what I said back in February 2011 about the first decade: It is February 2011; nothing odd about that. Well, it was a decade ago that I joined the digital revolution, or at least the online version.

A decade ago, after a week of gate guard, I went home with an AOL disc in my hand, powered the mighty computer on and loaded the disc and waited. And waited.

But of course that waiting was nothing compared to the waiting ahead.

Once loaded, all these wonderful icons on the desktop, I double clicked on the AOL one and listened to the soon to familiar sound of the modem dialling.

And wait.

And wait.

And in time, I got the welcome to AOL page.

I looked at the screen expecting the tidal wave on information to swamp me at any moment. I looked and the screen looked back. I saw there was an e mail in box, and I had a mail. Welcome to AOL it said. Thanks.

Now, thanks to an aborted college course 18 months previous, and so was aware of search engines. I saw a box in which to enter a word to search. So, I typed

Pen pals.

Yes, I decided I needed a full inbox and that digital friends was the way to ensure this happened. So, I clicked on a link, waited, waited. The page loaded. I clicked on the link to the ads section. And begin to scroll down.

After a while I selected people to respond to I wrote initial letters. And, I did get many replies, and with some of them I did make real friends. I say friends, because that is what I made. I had not met any of them yet, but it turns out that I would meet some in the future. So, my weekends began to be filled with writing letters to and from people all over the world. I guess some of us learned how each other lived, and how that despite our distances, our lives are pretty similar.

That was 5 years ago, and my pool of online friends, in the sense I talked about above is now just two. Two with whom I write to on a fairly irregular basis. One is in Oregon and the other is in Colorado. We write maybe once every three months each, swap news, views and what we are reading, watching or feeling. In that time I have seen them and their families grow, get older, and for the most part their children have grown into adults, and I am so lucky to have shared that journey, if from a distance.

I am now back on Facebook, but I have a love/hate relationship with it. On the plus side it does keep me in touch with distant friends and former colleagues. On the negative side it does also cast a light into some of their darker sides with what they share and post. Twitter I used to love, and is still wonderful for keeping in touch with news and following tweets during Norwich's matches and the re-run of TOTPs, feels like being in a party of friends or fans. But the hate mob is called put way too often, and seems like almost anything said can offend someone, somewhere. At least here, I can voice my thoughts without offending anyone, as so few read it.

And then there is Flickr: 35,000 shots posted, ongoing projects include: orchids, Kent churches, Kent pubs, City of London churches, trains and so on. I have met some wonderful people through photography, visited some wonderful places, seen some rare and remarkable things in the pursuit of a shot or two. Photography and my interaction with others through that will continue. This year I hope to arrange a few get-togethers involving orchids here in Kent, arranged around the Japan trip which also coincides with the peak orchid season!

Something my friend from Oregon said this week, about losing touch with people online. I had so many friends when I was down on my luck, we would offer each other support and that. But as I pulled myself up by my bootstraps, they dropped off quickly. So, those of you, wherever you are in the world, no matter how we got to know each either. I treasure each and every one of you, and you have enriched my life with either your words, your outlook or maybe your art. I thank you all.

In the next week we will reach blog # 1500, and for that I will list, in no particular order, my top ten films, and maybe my top ten songs as well. We shall see. I have done the films, but comparing a science fiction against a comedy is impossible.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Tuesday 16th February 2016


Back in the 80s, when I was a QC inspector at the chicken factory, Sunday evenings were a time of anxiety as I fretted about the upcoming week. Once I left the RAF, that continued as I had a series of temporary jobs, delivering beer or horrible chemicals. Even up to about 18 months ago, I would worry about what Monday would bring when I would open my mail box. It seems that those days are behind me, for now at least. So, I wake Monday morning, all revved up and raring to go, sure there would be no burning issues for me, mainly because I had my phone all weekend and was dealing with the issues there and then. Won't happen often, but hey.

I have breakfast once Jools has left, while outside a steady rain falls, with the BBC putting out a yellow warning for snow and sleet for the evening commute, I told Jools to be careful.

Late afternoon walk This week is another holiday weekend in Denmark, so things promised to be quiet all week. Which coupled with my first week at home all year, all sounded like music to my ears. Anyway, after the burst of excitement of the new mails, dealing with those, things settled down. I put the radio on, and whiled away the day away, working, stroking the cats and making and drinking coffee and tea. Its a lifestyle choice I guess.

Late afternoon walk At the end of the day, there was a few breaks in the clouds, so I decided to go for a quick walk to try to stretch my legs and get some fresh air. The wind was in the north, and the next bank of dark clouds were building, but for now, there was sunshine. And mud. Lots of mud.

Horses are taken for walks, is that what you do with horses; walk them? Anyway, many horses feet had churned up the path over the fields, meaning to be able to keep moving, the path is spreading onto the fields either side, where the ground is firmer. The pig's copse is still empty, and as I stood at Fleet House the last of the afternoon sun was eclipsed by more dark clouds. In my pocket I had half a dozen carrots; I walked down the path leading to the dip to feed the two sad looking horses. They ignored me at first, but then saw my carrots!

Late afternoon walk They came over and were very happy to be fed. Their owner was there, and she said it was OK, but don't feed them too much! So, the final few I took to the sorrowful group of horses and ponies in the next field, then with the carrots all gone, I turned for home.

As I walked inside the back door, the heavens opened and large hailstones hammered down. Just in time.

Monday night is now X Files night, so we wait in anticipation. Or I do at least, as the clock ticks round to nine and Mulder and Scully time.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Monday 15th February 2016


Valentine's Day

We sleep in until half seven, after the cats learn to play the trumpet to wake us up.

Looking at the weather forecast, it seems we were set for rain until three in the afternoon at least, and heavy rain too. But looking outside, it seemed quite bright with just a light drizzle in the air. However, we decided to wait until after lunch to go out and do something, with Jools going to visit Nan and the old folks in the morning, and me watching football, as someone has to. Apparently.

So, with Molly sat beside me, and keeping one eye on the birds feeding outside, I watch the football whilst eating a fresh bacon butty, it makes the morning pass in a pleasant way.

Jools comes back at just before midday; Nan is not happy, she is really clinically depressed, but there is nothing we can really do for her. She is too frail to move, and she cannot hear much nor see either. It might be easier for us all if her mind had gone too, but that is still sharp as a tack.

The plan had been to go down to Dungeness in the afternoon, but with the football on the radio, and the thought that is was going out for the sake of it really, I decided that we should stay home and do chires. Well, I would do chores once the Arse v Leicester game finished. That ended in a 2-1 win for the Gooners, which was a little harsh on The Foxes. But, as promised, I went outside to help Jools in the garden, pruning and weeding before I lost interest and returned inside to watch the second half of the Italy v England egg-chasing game.

That done there was a short pause before the Cituh v Spurs game on the radio. We ate cheese and crackers towards the end, instead of a meal. Mmmm, cheesey.

We round up the day watching documentaries on black holes and a possible 9th planet orbiting the su. High brow stuff, Jools fell asleep, but it made me think. Think it was time for bed.

Anyway, a week at home, at least, so no packing for me.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Sunday 14th February 2016

Today is Valentine's Day. Someone who may or may not have existed. But almost certainly, did not visit a petrol station to buy some limp roses for that significant other. Or others.

But that is today, yesterday was Saturday, and here's what happened.


I wish I could say that we did a huge amount of stuff on the first day of the weekend. But the weather had other times, and a look at the BBC weather revealed the best part of 36 straight hours of heavy rain. I know we could have gone out anyway, my friend Sam suggested some mono work, but in the end, we decided to stay in. Sta in and look out of the window with rain drops running down the outside. The wind was set in the north, it was cold, wet and grim. Welcome to February.

Jools went to see Nan first thing, then went into Canterbury to look for a few things. Most of which seemed to be ice cream, but hey. I stayed home to listen to Danny Baker and make bread rolls. As I do. The house had three sleeping cats, upset that they could not go out, and so showed their displeasure by sleeping even longer. Occasionally coming down to the kitchen to meow at their full food bowl, indicating, well, who know.

We ate the rolls for lunch, still warm and filled with cold ginger sausages I cooked the day before, just for this very meal. And they were wonderful.

The afternoon was filled with football. Football on the wireless. Man Utd lost at Sunderland, then Norwich played West Ham, throwing away a 2-0 lead to hang on to a 2-2 draw. Not good enough and falling to 19th, next to bottom in the table. Thanks to Chelski thrashing The Toon 5-1, somehow we end the day in 17th place, and out of the bottom three. On goals scored. The only bright spot on a grim day really.

Nan's niece came to visit from the heart of deepest Surrey. After calling in to see Nan, Mary came to ours to swap news, drink coffee. This is part of Jools' extended family I have heard about, but not met before. All the cats were very unhappy with their house being filled by two people they did not know, so went outside into the rain to show their disapproval.

By six Mary had left, and so Jools and I had a party. Or party food anyway. Seems like a good idea, fill baking sheets with ready made nibbles, and 15 minutes later, sit on the sofa surrounded by tasty food, sipping cider or ale. Lovely.

The day ended up with the latest Nordic Noir series, Trapped, filmed in Iceland, and very Nordic and very noir. Hit the spot really.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Saturday 13th February 2016


I have been known to complain about the amount of traveling that I do. Some weeks, by the time the weekend rolls round, I am shattered, and it is that rather than the traveling I don't like. Saying that, this week, four days at home and a day trip to Brussels, even if it meant traveling most of the way to London before picking up my train to Belgium. Even more frustrating is that we live about 5 miles from where the tunnel passes beneath Shakespeare Cliff, so to have to travel up to Ebssfleet just to travel all the way back en route is frustrating, but then to have to do the same thing in reverse is plain silly. But there were services stopping at Ashford that allowed me to see the end of the meeting.

Dawn Saying that, the thought of a nice day working from home did fill me joy; less so as I watched my mail inbox fill up during Thursday, which meant that either a later finish on Thursday, or up with the lark on Friday to toss those grenades back over the wall. As ever, the volume of work wasn't quite as bad as feared, and by mid-morning I had caught up, and now it was waiting to see if what I had done was sufficient. I have cheese and beans on toast for a mid-morning brunch, feeling much more human now.

I sat at the table working, Molly slept away on the chair beside me, apparently happy just to be there.

The bright sunrise had given way to low and heavy clouds, and so there seemed little point in going for a walk. I really should have taken the chance, but in fact, my enthusiasm of the morning faded in the afternoon, and with a migraine building, I took to the sofa to close my eyes. I wake up just before four, Denmark seems to have finished for the weekend, as all my colleagues are offline. I fire two last mails off, and I am done too.

I am to cook chorizo hash for dinner, but on her way home Jools is going to Tesco, so I wait to cook as the day fades outside. Once home, Jools puts the shopping away and I get cooking. Soon the house is filled with the smell of cooking paprika. I open a bottle of wine, and soon the meal is ready. We toast each other and congratulate the fact that we both have survived it again.

In the evening, we watch old TOTPs, a compilation of 70s music before our eyes begin to droop. Outside a frost has formed already, better to be tucked up in bed.

Japan Update

All, now not wishing to make you jealous or sound boastful, but I am rather looking forward to our trip in May. Below is a brief list of the travel plans

Day 1 London to Tokyo
Day 2 Private Car from Tokyo Haneda Airport to Hotel
Day 3 8 Hours Private Guide Service in Tokyo
Day 4 Free for wandering and photography
Day 5 Bullet train Ueno to Kyoto
Day 6 Free for wandering and photography
Day 7 Free for wandering and photography
Day 8 Bullet Train from Kyoto to Hiroshima
Day 9 Sightseeing on Miyajima
Day 10 Ferry and Trains from Miyajima to Kurashiki (JRP)
Day 11 Train from Kurashiki to Takayama
Day 12 Sightseeing in Takayama
Day 13 Bullet Train from Takayama to Tokyo
Day 14 Free Day in Tokyo
Day 15 Private car to Airport and flight home.

Day 1

Depart London Heathrow on the British Airways flight BA5 to Tokyo. The flight departs at 11:45 AM and arrives at 7:15 AM the following day.

Day 2

You will be met today at Haneda Airport with a driver waiting for you as you enter into the arrivals lobby holding a sign with your name on. You will transfer by private vehicle to your accommodation in Tokyo, making for a smooth and relaxing start to your trip. Journey time is in the region of 30 minutes (dependent upon traffic). Sit back, relax and enjoy the views of Tokyo's skyscrapers as you approach the city.

Day 3

Today you will take a full day private tour of the city with a local guide, travelling by public transport, as Tokyoites do, in order to help you to get a real feel for the Japan's capital. This will be a fantastic introduction to Tokyo and the chance to get a personal insight not only into the classic sights, but also into some more unusual and unique features of the city. With a guide at your disposal you are free to set the pace of the day to be as busy or relaxed as you choose. The guide can help you discover aspects of Tokyo that you would not find by yourself and can also help you get to grips with the city's excellent transport network. Your guide will come to your hotel at around 9:00 AM (or any time you choose) to meet you and your day will proceed from there. We are keen to help you get the most out of today, so if you have any specific areas of interest please let us know in advance, so we can pass this on to the guide. Your day of guiding will finish at around 5:00 PM with the guide either dropping you back at your hotel or anywhere else in the city you wish to spend the evening.

Day 5

You will be using your Japan Rail Pass to take a JR Yamanote Line train just a few stops to Tokyo Station where you will change to the Shinkansen. The Tokaido Shinkansen line was the first of Japan's famous 'Bullet' Train lines to open and traverses the 343 miles between Tokyo and Osaka. When the 00 series trains with their distinctive bullet-shaped noses first started running in October of 1964 (just in time for the Tokyo Olympics) journey time to Osaka was over 4 hours. Today the same trip can be done in just 2 hours 35 minutes! Your journey time to Kyoto will be between 2h17 and 2h45. Keep a look out of the right hand windows of the train for Mt. Fuji. But don't be disappointed if you can't see her as she is a notoriously shy mountain

Day 8

From Kyoto you will head on down the eastern seaboard west to Hiroshima by Shinkansen using your Japan Rail Pass. This journey of nearly 400km takes around 2 hours, during which time the train passes through several major cities along the coast, including Kobe, famous for its topgrade beef.

Day 9

Today you will have a free day to explore Miyajima Island. You may like to hire bikes to get around. These are available to rent from 8am to 5pm at the JR ferry pier (last checkout is 3pm) costing 1,050 yen for the entire day. The island has excellent cycle paths and the coastal routes are fairly flat. On the northeast coast lies Tsutsumigaura, a 1km long white-sand beach lined with pine trees. The beach is packed with sunbathers, swimmers and windsurfers in July and August, but in the off-season Tsutsumigaura makes a lovely serene place to relax.

Day 10

This morning you will leave Miyajima Island and travel back to the mainland taking the JR ferry to Miyajima-guchi port, a local train to Hiroshima Station and then the Shinkansen to Okayama. From there it's a 17 minute local train ride to Kurashiki. Total journey time is around 2 hours 20 minutes including changes. You can use your Rail Pass on both the ferry and the trains.

Day 11

You will need to take a local train back to Okayama to board the Shinkansen and speed west to Nagoya, where you will change to an express train and work your way up into the Japan Alps, past some beautiful mountain scenery enroute to Takayama. Total journey time around 4 hours 30 minutes; your Info-Pack will have all the details.

Day 12

There are many ways to spend a relaxing free day in Takayama. In the morning head to the lively riverside market to see the stands selling local farm produce, flowers and crafts. Hire bikes and explore Takayama's many temples and shrines which earn the town the nickname 'Little Kyoto'. For lunch you will find that the local cuisine is truly a joy, including Japan's best beef, soba noodles, miso based dishes and roasted rice balls. Sake is the locals' drink of choice and micro breweries abound, so pop in for a tasting! A little out of town you can visit the Hida Folk Village with its traditional farm houses and craft exhibits or walk the temple trail that takes in the gentle hills surrounding the town. Alternatively relax in a coffee shop on the one of the old streets, do a little souvenir shopping and simply soak up the atmosphere of this traditional old town.

Day 13

From Takayama you will take a Ltd Express train south to Nagoya and then head east to Tokyo by Shinkansen bullet train. Journey time is 4 hours and 35 minutes.

Day 14

Today you will have the chance to make an excursion from Tokyo using the included Japan Rail Pass. The charming town of Kamakura lies just 1 hour to the west of Tokyo and can be reached by direct train from Tokyo Station. Kamakura was formally the capital of Japan for a short period in the 12th century and at that time was possibly the world's largest city with a population of over one million. Today however, it is a sleepy coastal town which attracts large numbers of day trippers to spend time exploring the beautiful shrines and temples. The most famous site if the impressive bronze dai-butsu (Big Buddha) which is certainly a must-see for any trip to Kamakura.

An alternative trip is to Nikko, located 2 hours to the North of Tokyo. This can be reached on the Shinkansen and then by local train service. Nikko is not only surrounded by stunning scenery that makes up the national park, but is also home to the World Heritage site of the Tosho-Gu Shrine. Nikko has been a place of pilgrimage for centuries and contains many important Buddhist and Shinto shrines and temples, but the most impressive and most famous is definitely Tosho-Gu with its vivid colours and many ornate carvings. Once you have marvelled at Tosho-Gu there are plenty more temples dotted throughout the surrounding forests that will keep you bewitched for a long time. Even higher up into the mountains from Nikko, it is very much worth visiting the serene Chuzenji-Ko lake and Kegon waterfalls. There are some pleasant walks around here and you may even pass some local monkeys!

Another nearby National Park is the Chichibu-Tama National Park home to the sacred Mt Takao, with its range of hiking trails and mountain-top temple complex, virtually untouched by foreign visitors. After an easy train journey of just under an hour (covered by your rail pass) you will arrive at the base of the mountain, from where numerous clearly-marked hiking trails (or a cable-car!) wind their way up to the summit. Many of the routes offer fine views back towards Tokyo and are dotted with small temples, religious statues and offerings increasing in number as the trails approach Yakuoin, an attractive temple dedicated to the 'kami'or spirits of the mountains. On a clear day, views of Mt. Fuji can also be enjoyed. The hike to the summit of Takao san can done in 2-3 hours and is moderate in difficulty.

If you fancy something a little more quirky, then a trip out to visit the world's second tallest statue at Ushiku in Ibaraki prefecture. Ironically referred to as the 'Bubble Buddha' the Ushiku dai-butsu was completed in 1995. It stands a total of 120 meters (394 feet) tall, including the 10m high base and 10m high lotus platform. An elevator takes visitors up to 85m off the ground, where an observation floor is located. It depicts Amitabha Buddha and is plated with bronze. The journey to get here will take around 90 minutes and this is certainly an amazing site seen by very few visitors to Japan.

Day 15

We will be arranging a taxi to pick up you up from your hotel today to take you in comfort to Tokyo Haneda Airport. Journey time is around 30 minutes, depending on traffic conditions. At the airport you will be dropped right at the door of the departures lobby. Have a safe flight!

Friday, 12 February 2016

Friday 12th February 2016


As you may well have noticed by now, but a working day for me is either: spent at home or traveling to either our office in Arhus or to a supplier, or sometimes to visit the customer. Days working from home are generally quiet, spent with the cats with little human contact other than those I speak to on the phone. Blogs of those days are mostly short, have few photos to illustrate them, and for me any such day is like any other. THe first three days of the week were spent working from home, talking to the cats, drinking coffee. Thursday was a day for traveling.

I have been traveling up and down the High Speed line to London since it was first opened to domestic services in June 2009. All but a few rush hour trains, just one I have traveled on, fail to stop at Ebbsfleet on their way to London. Indeed, rush hour trains that do stop there, are met with crowds of passengers trying to squeeze onto an already full train. Now, the sharp-eyed of you will realise that there is a reason I am saying this, and you would be right. Since the distruption in services from Dover, I have been picking up trains to London from Folkestone, getting off at Stratford as before, then retracing my steps on the way back. Thursday, a real treat for me, I was going to travel by Eurostar to Brussels and back, departing and returning via Ebbsfleet.

Welcome to Ebbsfleet International Looking at the Southeastern website, I could take the eight o'clock train and arrive at Ebbsfleet with just enough time to check in to for the train and maybe grab a coffee. So straightforward, so easy.

Jools dropped me off at twenty five past seven, I get my ticket and there is time to jump onto a train which meant I would have to change at Ashford to catch one that was going to stop at Ebbsfleet. I stood on the twenty minute run upto Ashford, then got out to wait for the next train towards London, as that would stop at Ebbsfleet. No?

Before my train arrived, a 'classic' serice was due in, had to be divided then the two halves head to Folkestone and Ramsgate: it was running late, and the crowds waiting for this were large, and after it was ten minutes late, passengers for London were also filling the platform up. So, the two halves of the train pull out, and within a minute a Javelin pulls in on the same platofrm for London. The platform was so full, I could not see the full destination board, so jump on, and decide to stand again.

The doors closed, and the train eased out of the station, and the guard came on the tannoy to announce that the service was running 'fast' to Statford; which in trainspeak meant it wasn't going to stop until Stratford. There was 40 minutes or so until my train was going to leave for Brissels, and I was going to miss it. I called Eurostar and explained the situation: they were very sorry, but the next service was at 11:15, some two hours later, so much later I would miss the meeting. Or most of it.

To make matter worse, the signal gave out as the train neared Maidstone. We zoomed past Ebbsfleet at 125mph, I could see the platform I should have been standing on in about half an hour. Under the Thames and into Essex, further away from Ebbsfleet. I got a message on my phone, I could catch the quarter to nine train back to Ebbsfleet and maybe just be able to get through security to make the train. But no promises.

So, we entered the tunnel at Dagenham, rushing towards Stratford, hoping I was going to be in time for the connecting train back, but as we pulled into the station, another train was already leaving on the opposite platform. OH NO!

But, once on the platform, I looked on the information board and I saw that the train that should get me to Ebbsfleet in time was not due for ten minutes. So I had a few minutes calm before the train arrived. But once it did, every second would count.

It arrived a few seconds late, I stood looking at the door as we pulled out and entered the long tunnel back into Essex. We flew through the marshes, over the A13 and the massive jams on the M25 before diving under the river and into Ebbsfleet. I ran off the train, up the platform and climbed the escalator leaving fellow passengers training in my wake with just my sear words to calm them. The desk was still open, and the person checking the tickets recognised me, and said, oh, you made it then. I did.

Oddly enough, once through the queue for the security and French customs was calm, and I had to tell myself not to panic. Once through, people were relaxing in the chair, waiting to be called and allowed onto the platform. I saw my friend Matt, and explained my day to him, he laughed. But being at work, I was careful not to distract him. OK, showime, the train is approaching.

Welcome to Ebbsfleet International We wait on the platform, by the markings for the carriage were had our seats allocated. And waited.

And waited.

It trundled in five minutes late, then just sat in front of us, the doors not opening. At the other end of the platform there was a gaggle of policemen, seems like they were removing a troublesome passenger, who had done well in the 12 minutes from London had made sch nuisance to be arrested.

We were allowed on, and I found a double seat free, so sat there, and slumped, all the stress leaking out of me leaving me like a partially deflated balloon. The train pulled out, retracing my steps down to Ashford, where we took the fast lines and the station below passed like a toy train set. We were rattling on at full speed, and as the buffet was in the next carriage, I went along for a coffee, only for it to look like a throwback to the old BR days; looking very tired and a harassed lone lady serving, making coffee and warming snacks up. In fact the who Eurostar experience was a bit like that, tired: the seats and decor were also tired, freyed at the edges, and looking very much like the 22 years old these units are.

Arrival at Leuven I get my coffee and sandwich, and return to my seat as we pass by Dollands Moor and the Tunnel depot. Into the blackness of the tunnel we go, traveling much quicker than the car transporters we usually take. Out the other side into bright sunshine, as the weave our way through the maze of lines around Calais to Lille and then up to Brussels. It is always amazing to see how land, just 25 miles from home is so different, small villages, country roads connecting them, larger towns having freight marshaling yards, both feeling and looking continental.

We arrived in Brussels from Lille in about 40 minutes, a quick run and so much easier than driving, that's for sure. Once off, all I had to do now was find my way to Leuven, should be easy. But then the thought occured to me, that maybe there were two stations or more in the town, and I had no idea how to find out. Looking at the destination board, I see I had just missed a direct train, and then next one would not leave until 1. But I thought there might be another, which is why some nine minutes later I am on a rattly old train, worried I might be going in the wrong direction. I tried to ask the gentleman in the seat opposite if I was on the right train. I have no idea he said yes or no to be honest, but he did smile from under his impressive mustache.

Louven/Louvain Once through Brussels Nord, the train ran non-stop and quick to Leuven, I checked to make sure it was Leuven central. It looked like it was, so I got off, followed the crowds to the exit then looked for something familiar. Across the main road, then following the signs to the centre of the town, where I hoped something would look familiar.

Louven/Louvain I saw the City Hall in front of me, so if nothing else, from there I knew the way, so I relaxed and began to look at those walking past me. I cut through to the pedestrianised street, then along to alleyway I needed to cut down to the offices. Phew, made it with ten minutes to spare. without the half hour delay on the train, I would have been in plenty of time. I ring the intercom and am let in.

Louven/Louvain Once the meeting is done, we go to the main square round the cathedral to find a bar that accepts credit cards so we could have a beer and a bite to eat. We find a place and we order Leffe Royales all round along with a sharing basket of friend croquettes, well, we are almost in Holland. The beer and food are so good we order the same again before my boss and I walk to the station where he catches a train to the airport and I try to get back to Brussels, getting off the at the right station, as there were several. Just to confuse me further, Brussels Zuid is also called Bruxelles Midi, what is a poor boy to do?

Fonske I get on an express, find a seat and watch the City slip by as disk falls It is rather beautiful I have to say. And this is work, remember.

I arrive at Midi with an hour before check in, I find a place to eat; just a bagette and a Coke, but enough for a while. I fancy another Leffe, but the bar in the station is crowded. I see an exit and some small neon signs lighting up the night beyond; could one be a bar perchance? Indeed it it, a typical continental place, lots of choice and atmosphere. I order my Leffe and watch the soaks at the bar laughing and making jokes of the poor barman. I have no idea what was being said, but barflys are the same the world over.

I go to check in and am through into the waiting area quickly enough. We wait until ten minutes before departure before being allowed onto the train. Some have a coffee, other get a meal, but its all with plastic cuttlery and looks poor fare to me. And just a few minutes walk away there are fine local places to eat and make merry.

I get a window seat, facing backwards, so as the train pulls out I see the bright lights fading away into the night. We pass by more marshaling yards, stations and other lines branching off. We leave the suburbs behind and enter the countryside, and all is dark. I do some work, preparing for yet more meetings in the morning.

Through Lille, Calais where very few get on, then past the terminal on the French side of the Tunnel. All along the line are police vehicles on patrol with lights flashing, patrolling alongside the new triple width barbed wire fence. It feels like a prison, not nice in keeping refugees out. People who are just looking for a better life. But it is what it is, I guess.

Up through Folkestone and Ashford before slowing down and spitting me out at Ebbsfleet. I wonder how long I would have to wait for a train back down the line. Again. 6 minutes is the answer, so I go down onto the platform to wait. I call Jools and she will meet me back at Folkestone.

It is half nine by the time I step off the last train, Jools is waiting outside. She takes me to Burger King where I order a Whopper without tomatoes for supper. Dirty food, but good. It hits the spot. We arrive back home at just gone ten, I have a brew, then collapse to bed, tired as I have ever been. Or so it seemed.